What is a Foundry?

Posted on Aug 3, 2020

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What is a Foundry

Foundries are plants engaged in the production of metal castings and services related to foundry

The metal is tapped from the foundry furnace into the deluge ladle

A foundry is a factory where metal is melted and cast into new shapes

Foundries are responsible for our current standard of living and industrial development, but most of us know almost nothing about them. So what is a foundry?

 

FOUNDRY DEFINITION

Put simply, a foundry is a factory where castings are made by melting metal, pouring liquid metal into a mold, and then solidifying it. Even if you've never been to a foundry or even don't know what it looks like, you are surrounded by the metal castings they produce. There's a good chance you're reading this less than 10 feet from one.

Foundries produce not only metal products for engines, railways and pipe components. They also make machine components that are essential to making many of the basic consumer products we rely on. 90 percent of all manufactured goods are based on cast metal.

 

CASTING PROCESS

To understand the foundry you need to understand the casting process. The general steps of casting are patterning, molding, melting, casting, ejection, cleaning, cleaning and inspection.

The final shape of the casting corresponds to the mold into which it is poured, therefore the molds are carefully shaped according to a pattern - a wooden or metal replica of the object to be cast. The most common material for the molds is quartz sand, but they can be made from many different materials depending on the casting metal and method used.

Loading is one of the most dangerous operations in a foundry. Mistakes can be fatal.

The melting furnace is "loaded" with metal and heated above the melting point of the metal. When the molten metal has reached the specified casting temperature, it is tapped from the furnace through the spout into the refractory lined pouring ladle. Any slag or contamination is removed from the top of the molten metal surface. The ladle is then tilted to pour the molten metal into the mold cavity.

The mold cools and the metal solidifies, whereupon the casting is ejected from the mold and cleaned. The cleaned casting ends up with a cleanup, a process that removes excess material from the casting to achieve specific dimensions for the finished product. Depending on the specifications of the castings, cleaning can be quick and simple or very detailed. The finished castings are then inspected by the foundry prior to shipment.

Foundries not only produce raw castings. They perform a variety of operations that often include part design, tool building, prototyping, machining, assembly, and other aftermarket services.

 

FOUNDRY EQUIPMENT

Series 3 carbon electrodes electric arcs are used to melt steel or iron in an electric arc furnace. Modern foundries are highly mechanized. They contain all the machinery and equipment used for making patterns and cores, casting and forming. The range includes large melting furnaces, ladles, forklifts, cranes, conveyors and transfer tanks. All foundry equipment is specially designed to operate reliably at high temperature under smelting conditions.

The main difference between foundries is ferrous (iron or steel) or non-ferrous (aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, etc.).The exact type of equipment is determined by the metals with which the foundry works; Electric arc furnaces are ideal for working on steel, while a copper foundry is more likely to use an induction furnace. Ovens can vary in size, from small table-top appliances to those weighing several tons. Production volumes can vary from a fraction of an ounce to several tons. The same model and size variability applies to modeling and molding machines and most other casting equipment.

 

FOUNDRY DESIGN AND RISK REDUCTION

The foundry is inherently dangerous. Its primary activity is metal melting, which often requires temperatures in excess of 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit (1,425 ° C). To give this number some context, any water that comes into contact with the active furnace expands immediately to 1600 times its original volume - just filling the furnace with even slightly moist metal is enough to cause a catastrophic steam explosion.

The violent and unpredictable nature of the chemical reactions taking place at extremely high temperatures requires foundry safety procedures that are just as intense. Everything in the foundry is designed to minimize the risks of melting and transporting the metal.

The same conditions that favor effective and safe melting - heat without moisture - can also be ideal conditions for an uncontrolled fire. The design of the foundry solves this problem by removing flammable materials and maintaining flame retardants at all times. Due to the aforementioned steam explosion problem, water cannot be used to extinguish foundry fires. Instead, the extinguishing activities focus on extinguishing the flames with industrial fire extinguishers and dry sand.

Loading - loading metal into a furnace for melting - is one of the most dangerous operations in a foundry. A small mistake can cause anything from equipment damage to injury or death.

No wonder that foundries have high ambient temperatures. These are hot, sweaty workplaces - made worse by the fact that foundry workers are required to wear helmets, goggles, face shields and thick aluminized clothing. As intense as the heat can be, workers would not be able to tolerate it at all without the high ceilings. Foundries are designed with a high roof to allow air to circulate.

After the metal has melted, it still has to be moved around the foundry to be poured into the molds. For obvious reasons, extreme precautions are taken to avoid spills, especially on or near foundry workers. The route is marked, as short as possible and free from obstacles. Traffic on the foundry floor is strictly controlled, so that unnecessary personnel never get in the way of molten metal during transport. Mechanical aids (forklifts, mechanical vats) are used to further minimize human exposure.

Even with all preventive measures, leaks still happen. To minimize the damage when they do so, foundry floors are constructed of non-reactive, fire-resistant materials. Compacted dirt is the most economical and possibly the most effective. Normal concrete can crack when exposed to molten metal, but thermal shock-resistant concretes are available.

Some workers wear specialized protective equipment, such as aluminized clothing, to protect against the harsh casting environment. Safety-conscious design and protective equipment help reduce the risk to workers and equipment, but the real key to safe casting operations is skilled foundry workers with excellent situational awareness, strength and endurance.

 

CASTING INDUSTRY TRENDS

Castings are produced in foundries all over the world. Conditions vary from country to country and even from foundry to foundry, but the industry as a whole is experiencing trends. There are significant changes taking place in the foundry industry that affect quality and cost for the end user. Foundry technologies have developed over the years and the core foundry business has also evolved and diversified. The most dominant general trends are scale, automation and in-house finishing.

The new furnaces are larger, safer and more efficient than previous generations. This allowed for an increase in industrial production despite the steadily declining number of foundries in North America.

:: Read more : The Many Advantages of Gray Cast Iron

 

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